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December 07, 2005


Chris McEvoy

Nathaniel Schutta has posted an item which makes some very good points.


Chris McEvoy

It was not my intention to send up Jakob Nielsen with this article, and I apologise to Jakob for any trouble caused.

Just to make it clear: I took the "Frames Suck" alertbox article from Dec 1996 and changed "Frames" to "Ajax". I also changed the "OK to use Ajax" section and changed the destination of many of the links.

I also made it clear at the bottom of the article that it was a spoof.

My intention was to try and damp down some of the hype around Ajax and to make the point that the user (not the technology) should be at the centre of everything we do.

I think that this has shown how people may not read articles carefully enough as I expected anyone who read alertbox articles to spot this fake very quickly as I put a lot of clues in there:

Most of the link destinations are obviously "wrong".

The first sentence: "the most controversial statement I have made in my Alertbox columns so far was to make 'the use of Ajax' one of the mistakes in my list of top ten mistakes in Web design."

Jakob has never put "the use of Ajax" in any of his top ten mistakes list.

The "Ajax free" banner links to my blog.

Lower case "ajax"

The "OK to use Ajax" section uses examples from the "Web 2.0 business idea generator"

I expected that anyone with more than a passing knowledge of Ajax development od usability would have picked up on these clues more readily.

Perhaps this was taken more seriously than intended because it actually has some validity?


Well I seem to be in good company having read it without realising it was a spoof (although I was thrown by the sentence "In the long term, we will need a richer model for hypertext nodes on the Web than can be supported by frames", which seems to have got through un-ajaxed.) But I have to say that it's not a very good spoof because it's bascially true. I am involved in devloping an ajax site at the moment, and the accessibility issues mentioned are precisely the ones we've been thinking about. And aren't frames basically deprecated now because of accessibility issues? Nielsen may be a fuddy-duddy with an ugly website, but his central thesis is pretty sound. So what was the point in sending him up?

Ian MacLeod

I would also like to point out that Ajax does not necessarily break the forward/back capabilities of the browser, nor bookmarking and informative URLs. Of course, the way to "get around" this percieved limit will take additional effort on the developer's part, as well as yet more JS code. As an example, take a look at:

as opposed to:

You'll also notice that, as you navigate through these examples, that the forward and back functionality of the browsers is preserved.

Of course, this isn't "a part" of the browser's navigational model, so it is up to the developer on how to implement such functionality (and thus opens a gaping hole in potential consistency)

Finally, I'm not 100% sure on this, but I'm guessing that most search engines ignore the #target portion of any linked URL, so it still is not effective for that.

So, I guess my point is, people love to break things, but don't often spend the time to fix them. (So it's not *impossible* to fix these claims, it's just difficult and beyond the scope of may web projects currently in production/development)

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